Twitchhiker | Paul Smith's travel tales from here and there


A bad day
21/02/2009, 10:09
Filed under: twitchhiker project | Tags: , ,

Yesterday proved beyond all doubt I’m that my organisational skills both suck and blow and that I’m shockingly naive about world travel. If sit down and apply myself to the situation, I become distracted by the phone or the fridge or the microcosms of dust caught in a shaft of sunlight, where I’ll watch them tumble through the air, colliding and spiralling and…

See? There are eight days to go and the twinkling originality of the headline has faded; it’s almost time to walk the walk and I’ve barely learnt how to crawl.

The day started well enough – a fun and bouncy studio interview with Neil Green and Diane Youdale at BBC Tees, a local radio station covering Teesside, County Durham and North Yorkshire (and my home town of Darlington). Three mildly distracting facts: 1) I was once Neil’s boss; 2) Diane was once Jet in the original TV show Gladiators; 3) despite yesterday been the first time we’ve met, I’ve visited Diane’s house before, and used her bathroom. As far as I know, the authorities are not aware.

As is the norm, I needed to switch my mobile off before going into a live radio studio. I had a phone interview with a Spanish radio station immediately afterwards, so I reminded my brain to remember to switch it back on. Myphone, not my brain.

After the interview, I hit a nearby coffee shop. I turned my mobile on, ordered a cappuccino, perused the national papers for stories of recession and Twitter. And I waited. And I drank more coffee, and I read more news, and I waited. The call never came.

I glanced at my mobile. Then stared at it in an eye-widening frenzy. It was turned off. I turned it back on. It had other ideas. And as you do in these situations, one attempt at turning on the phone is never enough, nor is there a minimal amount of pressure you can apply to the on button. I was attempting to squeeze my finger through the top of my phone, and still the bastard refused to wake up.

I haven’t heard from the station since. I suspect they’re a little upset with me. I’m a little upset with me. Why didn’t I check the battery was charged before I left the house? Why wasn’t I organised? At what point exactly, will I get my shit together for this trip?

The phone had resisted all attempts to be turned on, so I returned home and slumped into my chair to write away the afternoon. There was a brief bedazzling ray of good news mid-afternoon; the absurdly talented Geoff Lloyd at Absolute Radio (formerly Virgin Radio) replied to a comment I’d made on Twitter. Seemed as good a time as any to ask for a cheeky interview on national radio. Yes, in a word. Hooray.

The timing (a live interview in London on Tuesday evening) meant I couldn’t get back to Gateshead for my jabs, so I phoned my local surgery to see if I could re-schedule my appointment.

No, in a word.

When’s the earliest I could get my jabs if I cancelled the appointment, I asked. There was a pause at the other end of the phone, one too long to be comfortable:

“Oh no, you won’t get any jabs during this appointment. It’s a consultation. Then you make an appointment for your jabs.”

“Oh. So if I attend the consultation, how soon could I get my jabs?”

“We’re very busy at the moment… let me check…”

March 12th. Three weeks time. 12 days after I leave.

There’s a positive to take from this, honest. Even if I’d been organised and arranged the consultation on the day I announced Twitchhiker, I still probably wouldn’t have received my jabs in time. Popular consensus  seems to be that you need your jabs a month before you travel, rendering the whole exercise pointless anyway. @laradunston believes I can get away without any vaccinations as long as I’m sensible. She may be right, but a) I’d rather not leave it to chance, and b) I’m not sensible.

So here I am. Eight days to go. No jabs. A broken, unreliable phone. Everything to sort out. Too much to do. Why am I doing this again?


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Why not…
Twitter out if there is another GP surgery/doctor who can do jabs before you go. Or, combine Twitter anbd that local radio station and see if anyone can help?

Also, while Twittering, see if anyone will sponsor you a new phone for the trip?

Just an idea…

Comment by Andrew Chapman

I did ask tweeps for help with a mobile last week. Lots of activity, nothing forthcoming so far. Fingers crossed.

With regards to jabs, there seems to be plenty of privately options. Just need to see if I can afford them…😦

Comment by Paul

If you’re really worried about the jabs then follow Andrew’s advice – both great ideas! – now that’s the frame of mind you need to get into! But, look, I’ve been to around 50 countries since I last had any jabs (Africa, Asia, you name it) and I’m perfectly fine. I know people in those countries travelling all the time and getting shots is the last thing on their mind. I think The West and Western Medicine scares us into thinking we need them to keep the Travel Medicine industry going. (How’s that for provocative?) But if you don’t get your jabs, don’t sue me, okay?

BTW, doing some posts on the Travel-Twitter revolution – linked to you and one of your posts a couple of times today – and again tomorrow. That’s what I do – a bit of a series.

Comment by laradunston

Aw, man, so sorry about the phone interview thing. Sounds a lot like something I would do. I hope they weren’t too mad at you😦

Comment by Amedyr

Sounds like you need a Powermonkey. http://www.powertraveller.co.uk/

It’s a portable battery which you can use to charge up a multitude of products, plus it also has a mains adapter which can be used in different countries. It also comes with a USB connector so you can use that to charge your gadgets too. They’re brilliant things, I travel to the US on a regular basis and use mine there all the time. I can charge up my camera, phone, iRiver and Nintendo DS with it. Oh, and there’s a solar powered one too.

Comment by Nathaniel




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